Rich Thorsten, PhD | Director of International Programs

Rich Thorsten, PhD

Thorsten joined in 2007. As the Director of International Programs, Thorsten oversees the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of’s water and sanitation programs. Thorsten also works closely with the Development and Communications teams on donor and special public relations projects.

Thorsten brings nearly fifteen years of experience in non-profit management, advocacy, research, and evaluation to He spent several years in program and executive positions at resource conservation and smart growth organizations in the United States and served as a board member for non-profit groups specializing in international development. Thorsten has worked in advocacy, advisory, and research roles with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several state and local government agencies. While pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in international planning, Rich evaluated the sustainability of multiple rural water systems in Peru and Ghana on behalf of the World Bank and studied public-private water and sanitation partnerships in Asia. He has also participated in an international development education and training program abroad in India.

Commitment to

“I have centered my professional life on improving the quality of life of current and future generations while safeguarding our environment. My experiences in different parts of the developing world has opened my eyes to the daily perils of families who live in absolute poverty and the promise of enabling those less fortunate to improve their lives and restore their dignity through sustainable development.

I am very excited to work for an organization like that values innovation, learning through practice, and meaningful results. represents a wonderful opportunity for communities to enhance public health, provide more time for families, and give individuals both a basic need and a stake in deciding their future. My wife and I are both deeply committed to this organization as longtime volunteers, donors, and now for myself as a staff member. And we’re also eternally grateful to – since they provided the venue (an annual fundraising dinner) where we first met!”

Education and Professional Affiliations

Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (focus on water and sanitation provision in less-developed countries)

M.R.P. in City and Regional Planning, UNC Chapel Hill (focus on regional economic development)

B.A. in Plan II Honors, University of Texas at Austin (focus on environmental and development economics)

Certificates in International Development (University of Minnesota – Twin Cities) and Comparative International Relations (Georgetown University)

Memberships in International Water Association, World Planning Congress, American Water Works Association, and American Collegiate Society of Planning

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